I THINK OF successful contractors and contracting businesses, and one commonality shines through all the other ingredients of their success. The founder, or one of his first employees, was an excellent salesperson.
And this reality moves beyond contracting and is a key ingredient in the success of any business that may come to mind. Someone was skilled at selling, someone invests a portion of every week selling and that sales activity is directly related to the company’s level of profitability.
In start-up businesses, selling is hardly ever done right and it’s the biggest reason why most start-up contracting businesses never make it past the second truck. (I’ve always thought contracting starts to be fun when you have five trucks running profitably.)
My dogmatic statement of the day is that unless you or someone in your firm carries the assignment of being the “front person” or, as they say in polite professional firms, “the rainmaker,” you are not really running a profitable and growing business.
You are just selling your labor to the lowest bidder, not to mention running a con on all those who love you and are depending upon you to be successful.
The success you dreamed of when you started can only happen if you master the skills of expanding and upgrading your customer base, and selling more goods and services to each retained customer. Because you have not learned to sell, perhaps don’t even understand the skills involved, you have become convinced that you are poor salesperson. Because you don’t understand how much good can come from creating a sale rather than fighting to be the lowest bidder, you can never afford, either financially or emotionally, to hire someone to be your salesperson.
We all know that when you start your business you are eager to accept any kind of work even remotely connected to your skills because you must prove to yourself and to everyone around you that you are in business. The general public knows no more about you than what it says on the side of your truck, which is probably something broad and ineffective such as “Plumbing – Sales and Service.”
Some of you have not even developed this far and are driving a signage-free vehicle. Declare yourself. Get business cards, keep clean ones with you at all times and pass them out freely. Having them “in the truck” is not sufficient.
If you are unsure about what you wish to sell or be, business cards are cheap. Get two or three featuring the different ambitions of your business. Get signs for all your rolling equipment and even for stuff just parked at the job.
I believe in the stability projected by painted-on or pasted-on plastic reflective signage, but to get you started, I’ll let you get by with magnetic signage if it is big!
You must establish a focus for your business. Most desirably your focus will be a statement that reflects what you have found to be most profitable or things you like to do or even hope and aspire to do.
Be bold here. Include things you wish you could do if someone would ever ask you to do them. Once you have narrowed your focus to a group of simple statements on paper, then you must use every opportunity to tell people these wonderful things you do and why they should hire you to do them.
This statement becomes your “line card.” There must be a version of it so short that you can recite it to a stranger during a short elevator ride as a memorable “sales introduction.” It is a statement of your business known by your family because you have discussed it multiple times at dinner.
Instead of horror stories, your family will, for a change, be treated to your tales of jobs well done and happy customers whose problems you have solved. They have heard you say the words, or portions of this mantra, at PTA meetings, neighborhood barbecues, and wherever and whenever people gather who are willing to listen.
It becomes the message you want to convey to the “talkers” of the community. These are the people in the community who need a continuous supply of small talk to entertain their clients as they work. They include, but are not limited to, your hairdresser or barber, your dental hygienist, the bartender, and certainly all the professional people who do work for you and who are obliged to listen to your “commercial,” if only to be polite.
It is how you explain your profession at the luncheon civic club you join because you will join one. You will join the luncheon civic club, even if it means that once a week you must be dressed for success in the middle of the day!
If you get good at it, the club may ask you to fill in for the speaker who didn’t show for a meeting!
And all of a sudden you and your family have become salespeople, proudly proclaiming what you do and how well you do it just as all the other successful professionals in the community and their families brag about their businesses.
$149 + $7.00 S&H — HIGH PERFORMANCE CONTRACT- ING/FLAT RATE PRICING VIDEO SEMINAR An excitingly different training program for you and your key employees. Contractors exactly like you have increased their profits quickly using the information provided by these tapes.
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